by Alison Weir
Born into a noble English family, Anne is barely a teenager when she is sent from her family’s Hever Castle to serve at the royal court of the Netherlands. This strategic move on the part of her opportunistic father also becomes a chance for the girl to grow and discover herself. There, and later in France, Anne thrives, preferring to absorb the works of progressive writers rather than participate in courtly flirtations. She also begins to understand the inequalities and indignities suffered by her gender.
Anne isn’t completely inured to the longings of the heart, but her powerful family has ambitious plans for her future that override any wishes of her own. When the King of England himself, Henry VIII, asks Anne to be his mistress, she spurns his advances—reminding him that he is a married man who has already conducted an affair with her sister, Mary. Anne’s rejection only intensifies Henry’s pursuit, but in the absence of a male heir—and given an aging Queen Katherine—the opportunity to elevate and protect the Boleyn family, and to exact vengeance on her envious detractors, is too tempting for Anne to resist, even as it proves to be her undoing.
While history tells of how Anne Boleyn died, this compelling new novel reveals how fully she lived.
Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession (ABAKO) was an interesting read, albeit a bit dry at times. Ms. Weir portrayed some characters very differently than I’ve previously read, including Mary Boleyn and Henry Percy.
On the thread of characters portrayed differently, I didn’t particularly enjoy George Boleyn being so vilified. I wonder what evidence, if any, there is to support the misdeeds attributed to him in ABAKO beyond his vague execution speech.
I’ve never read anything about Anne’s older brothers before, and had no idea they existed. However, according to this article by Ms. Weir, there is some evidence that they existed. I guess they simply don’t have enough of an impact on history to bother mentioning in the books I’ve read.
The Henry Norris/Anne Boleyn romance was new to me as well. However, it seems to be purely conjecture on Ms. Weir’s part, although she bases it on a comment from Anne Boleyn which may indicate Anne loved someone other than her husband.
As a side note, but irrelevant to my rating, I wish the Author’s Note at the end would have contained more actual information rather than references to Ms. Wier’s other books. As an author, I can appreciate the tactic to drive readers to her other books. However, as a reader, I’d rather be provided a summary of the pertinent information rather than be sent on a scavenger hunt through an entire other book to find it.
I generally enjoyed ABAKO, although it didn’t drag me in as so many other Tudor historical fiction novels have in the past. I certainly wouldn’t discourage anyone from reading it, but I think you’d enjoy it most if you’re a fan of Tudor history or Anne Boleyn.
About the Author
Alison Weir is a British writer of history books for the general public, mostly in the form of biographies about British kings and queens. She currently lives in Surrey, England, with her two children.
Before becoming an author, Weir worked as a teacher of children with special needs. She received her formal training in history at teacher training college.
Disclaimer: This review is based on an eBook I purchased from Amazon on July 5, 2018.